Prohibition shook America’s foundation. It turned men into mobsters, drove ladies to lawlessness and transformed bootleggers into heroes. Big House wines are inspired by these bootleggers who helped bring Prohibition to an end and paid their dues in the Big House. Established in 1990 in Monterey County California, Big House Wine Co. receives its namesake due to the close proximity to the Soledad Correctional Facility, A.K.A. “The Big House.” Their wines are crafted to deliver a fruit-forward style with an unrestrained full-mouth character that is big, bold and unapologetic. Just like their wines, the bootleggers of the roaring ’20s had big personalities, bold character and a rebellious spirit. And now, nearly a century after the start of the Prohibition Era, Big House Wine Co. pays homage to the giants of the era with wines that live up to their legend.
California is a winemaking colossus; by itself it is the fourth largest producer in the world. Red wine accounts for 56% of the total by volume, and red grapes 63% of total acres planted. In addition, a number of California red wines are heralded as being among the most prestigious and sought-after wines in the world.
While the state’s incredibly diverse geography, soils and microclimates allow for a wide array of styles, the key factor unifying California red wine is the abundance of sunshine and a long, consistent growing season. This leads to well-developed fruit marked both by impressive ripeness and balancing acidity.
The state’s most famous red wine region, of course, is Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as king. But California boasts a wealth of other impressive appellations. The much larger and climatically varied Sonoma County also produces world class California Cabernet, along with wonderful examples of California Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Fine versions of Cabernet and Zinfandel hail from Paso Robles as well, which is also gaining fame with Rhone varietals like Syrah and Grenache. As for Pinot Noir, terrific examples can be found from AVA’s such as Anderson Valley, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. Wineries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are making wonderful Syrahs, and the Sierra Foothill appellations are proving to be an experimental hotbed, with Italian and Spanish varietals employed to great effect.
This of course is a mere sketch. The subject of California red wine is as deep and broad as an ocean, and absolutely a joy to explore!